This new work by international company Theatre Témoin takes as its source material the testimony, compiled by director Ailin Conant, of fighters from countries of conflict including Israel, Rwanda and Lebanon.
Their experiences have been filtered through the fertile imagination of playwright Julia Pascal who here hijacks the legend of Jonah by placing four soldiers inside a giant whale. Each fighter is forced to share their own experiences and crime to have a chance of escape.
There is a Beckettian quality to this piece that charts a course through bleak tragedy and dark comedy. But I have a hunch that Pascal was thinking of Sartre when she wrote this play. As is the case here, the characters in Huis Clos (No Exit) are also trapped in an afterlife while forced to confront the decisions and deeds that led them to their purgatory.
However, I’m unconvinced that their stark testimonies are best served by a playwright’s artful symbolism.